Friday, March 4, 2016

How Are Those New Years’ Resolutions Working for You?

On December 31st we find most of the resolutions we made twelve months earlier aren’t even remembered, much less started or accomplished!  What’s causes the recurring phenomenon?   

Working with my coaching clients I’ve found one of the principal culprits that holds them back:  They are not ready to change!

Most resolutions involve changing a habit or behavior. If you aren’t ready for change, it won’t happen.  There’s a fabulous change model called Prochaska’s Stages of Change that has five stages.  If you are in the first or second stage of change, its likely you will not live up to your resolutions.

If you are in the first stage of change, called pre-contemplation, you don’t view the habit or situation you want to break as a real problem.  That’s where I find many of my clients.  This is when resolutions are written that don’t reflect what the client thinks is a problem, but what someone does.  Take the example of Luci.  Her spouse thinks she should exercise more, but Luci doesn’t believe her weight is a problem.  But to appease her spouse Luci makes a resolution to exercise more.  And does she?  Probably not, because Luci doesn’t believe a real problem exists.

Contemplation is the second stage of change.  Here you know there is a problem, but you are sitting on the fence, weighing pros and cons.  You can stay in the contemplation stage for long periods of time, months or even years.  Moving out of this stage may require a deep evaluation of values or working with a mentor or role model to help support you to start planning for change.  If Luci were in this stage, she’d be looking at the pros and cons of more exercise, she might be talking to colleagues or friends about exercising more, or discussing the value of more exercise with her physician.

The third stage is preparation.  This is where you are really motivated to take action in the near future, probably within the next month.   In this stage you believe you can make a change.  If Luci were in this stage she would be making plans to join a health club, set up “walking dates” with a buddy, purchase exercise videos, etc.

When my coaching clients set resolutions and goals I listen closely to how they describe them.  Do I hear excitement around the goal?  Can they describe why they want to pursue the goal?  Can they say what steps they need to take to achieve the goal?  Can they tell me when they will start working on the first step? Asking these questions allows my clients to listen deeply to themselves and find the sweet spot where resolutions and goals are going to work for them, not against them.

How do you know if you have a resolution that works for you?  Are you excited about it? Can you describe why it is important to YOU? Can you list steps to achieve it? Do you have a start date and schedule?  If so, then you’ve probably got a winning resolution. 

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Thursday, February 25, 2016

Let’s Start to Invent!

At 7:15 PM CT the first Wednesday of each month there's a group of committed women who come together to Toast Leadership.   They are inventors!  Invention is about discovery, creation and change. What these women know is that embracing invention allows them to grow, develop and fulfill their potential. 

In November we surveyed our Toast to Leadership women and asked, “What topics would you like to explore during 2016?”  Not surprisingly the respondents  didn’t choose topics like negotiation skills, or meetings or team management!  Hands down, these women wanted more than a toolbox of skills.  Out of a list of several topics on the survey, they wanted to focus on the core of exceptional leadership…..mindfulness. 

Neuroscience research says that mindful practice brings about changes to the structure and function of the brain and reinvents us by helping minimizing a life in auto-pilot and improves our focus, clarity, creativity, and empathy.  This change lets leadership presence flourish and translates into a host of “betters”….better strategic thinking, better response under pressure, better listening and engaging skills, better and more informed decision making, and better creativity and innovation.  Who wouldn’t want these benefits?

At the recommendation of our “inventors”  the focus of Toast to Leadership:  Ladies Virtual Night Out this year, is on “Mindful Leadership.”   We’ll explore the neuroscience, see why companies such as General Mills, Pixar and Ford have implemented in house mindfulness programs, and learn how to practice and incorporate mindfulness into our daily lives so that we can help ourselves and other flourish. 

Can’t wait to get started developing exceptional leadership?  Join us  by teleconference at Toast to Leadership:  Ladies Virtual Night Out the first Wednesday of each month from 7:15 – 8:15 PM.  If you haven’t registered, sign up at .

Let’s start to INVENT!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Prospective Sponsors Will Notice Your Brand…..It Speaks Louder Than Words

So you want to get a sponsor in your organization…….somebody with influence who is ready to go to bat for you in furthering your career.  How can a brand help you accomplish this?
Think about the power of brands.  It can be a food, car, hotel, or clothing brand.  What makes a brand powerful?  What makes you go back again and again to a brand?  I’m guessing it probably isn’t just their logo or outward trappings that lure you back.

Just having a brand with frills doesn’t guarantee success; it’s what is behind the brand that really counts.  And that is true for personal brands as well.  Here are two examples of what I’m talking about. 
When I lived in Seattle there was a marvelous small restaurant on the Olympic Peninsula that served the most incredible seafood meals.  Whenever I was there a line of people, rain or shine, were always waiting to get a table at the place.  This little restaurant didn’t have a fancy logo or, for that matter, fancy anything….except fabulous food and super friendly service.  Forty-four years later I still remember that wonderful place and its name…..The 3 Crabs Restaurant!

On the other hand, I’ve been to restaurants all over the world that initially enticed me in by a fancy logo or an attractive storefront, but didn’t have anything else to back them up.  I can’t remember their names now nor would I ever visit them again.  Like these examples, personal branding is all about putting your best impression forward AND sustaining that impression over time. 
How do you develop a professional brand?  Authenticity is key!   Keep in mind the words of Abraham Lincoln:  You may fool all the people some of the time, you can even fool some of the people all of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all the time.”  If your brand is not authentic, people won’t be fooled and neither will a prospective sponsor!

Knowing who you are, what you contribute, and where you are going make up your brand’s core.  You should not be surprised if this sounds familiar.  Branding is interwoven with how you see and conduct yourself.  It’s your vision, purpose, and strengths, daily actions, writing, speaking, interactions with others and your appearance and “soft skills.”
Perceptions about you by others play a big part in the type of possibilities and advancements that come your way.  If you know and follow your vision and purpose, use and live your strengths, and set and take action on your goals then the likelihood of building and sustaining your brand is almost guaranteed as is the prospect of gaining a sponsor.

Brands are not useful, though, unless they are communicated to and known by others.  A product can have all the best elements of a brand, but until the brand is recognized it can’t live up to its potential.  An important element of professional branding is visibility.  You not only need to develop your brand and nurture it, you must also publicize it to make a sustained imprint in furthering your career.
Make developing your brand a priority.  Then own it, be proud of it and publicize it every day through daily actions that speak louder than words.  You will be surprised how much easier your career can advance and how much more interest a prospective sponsor will have in supporting you.